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A Guide to the Mediation Blogosphere

October 22, 2006

Any idea how many new blogs are created each and every day?

About five thousand?

Guess again.

About 175,000 new blogs are created each day and over 57 million American adults read them.

Big deal – and we might even be impressed if we knew what a blog was and why we mediators should spend our time reading them.

So first, a blog . . . is something your teenager writes about their love life in their bedroom after school?

looks like a toilet roll with dates written on it?

is just for egocentrics who can’t get published in the print media?

C’mon guys, keep up… according to The American Lawyer law blogs have moved up the food chain in the last 12 months to be mainstream and;

‘The most compelling, cutting-edge, honest legal writing being produced in this country today is happening on the Internet, and the crop improves daily… it’s clear that the real bones and guts and sinew of the national conversation is happening online, and not in print.[read more ]

Have a listen to Bob Ambrogi talking to a couple of fellow A-listers in the legal blogging world at Blawgging at Big Law Firms.

After that, and as a sign of things to come, take a look at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society where a symposium in April 06 on Bloggership: How Blogs are Transforming Legal Scholarship was hosted.

The most readable blogs are brief, conversational and often irreverent. They are also usually outgoing, meaning they are rich in direct links to sources outside the blog itself. Links are now the dominant form of referencing and are responsible for their cousin, the rather unwieldy paper based footnote, making it on to the endangered species list.

Best of all, blog readers expect their blog author to present them with regular, fresh and lively posts with their morning coffee – as often as three or so times a week. Many blogs now include video and audio.

The world of ADR blogging is about to take off and you need to be getting aboard. But it’s still small, so you can take the tour without jet lag setting in.

A good place to start your trip is National Institute for Advanced Conflict Resolution’s pick of the top five mediation blogs for 2006 .

There you will find Diane Levin’s Online Guide to Mediation ; one of the first mediation blogs, now with more than 400 posts under her belt, and week after week delivers generous resources to her increasingly large and international audience.

After something a little more focused like help on running an ADR practice?

Try over at Dr Tammy Lenski’s Mediator Tech , a blog dedicated to the business of mediation and currently engaged in a bold new online experiment writing a book ‘Making Mediation Your Day Job’, chapter by chapter via the blog. Or maybe you find practice a bit lonely? How about Dina Beach Lynch’s Mediation Mensch where mediators can build thriving practices together.

A Florida mediator? Then it’s professionally negligent not to be reading Perry Itkin’s Florida Mediator blog.

For the big picture, go to the World Directory of ADR Blogs , where anyone who is anyone in the ADR blogging community is to be seen and read. This is the place to take in the whole landscape. From here you can pick and choose what you would like to see more of.

OK, so now you are on top of blogs, bloggers and blogging (and even blogiators – as blogging mediators or blawgers as blogging lawyers – are becoming known) you don’t have the time, right?

Yeah I know, I regularly read about 50/60 law/ADR blogs and I don’t have time to go looking all over the place for their latest posts, hell I’ve got a mediation practice to run. When I came home from a week away recently I had 441 new posts waiting to be read.

Information overload?

Well, that’s why the blogs I choose to read have to come to me when I want, in the way that I want.

To achieve that, I use a magic little site called Bloglines (or aggregators as these sites are called) to subscribe to my chosen blogs. It rushes around and busily gathers up all the new posts from my blogs as soon as they are written and just keeps them in one place for me to read them when I’m ready. It also lets me know, ever so gently, that I’ve got unread posts waiting.

Sites like Bloglines work because of technology called content feeds (or RSS – darn, I wanted to avoid that) but RSS is the high-tech version of the guy who, at precisely 5.43am every morning except Sunday, throws my newspaper over the fence and hits the side of our house here in Wellington – the news comes to me – I don’t have to go down the street and get it in my jammies. Want to know more? . . . check out Getting started with Bloglines at Wisconsin Lawyer.

Apart from no other platform provides mediators with such a democratic vehicle through which to collaborate, contribute and converse.

No doubt we will all continue to wait anxiously for that Amazon package containing the latest, hottest mediation book to arrive with the morning post, but sadly we won’t all be picked up by Jossey-Bass and, although our own thought leaders are the rock stars of our small mediation community, my hope is that through blogging we can hear more of the diverse voices here at the coalface of mediation practice.

They say that blogging represents the end of ‘top down talk’ and blogs allow any mediator from anywhere a chance to say anything.

We all know that there’s a lot of noise out there on the internet, but it looks like if what’s being said is any good, a readership will follow. . . maybe even if you live on the edge of the known world.


Geoff Sharp

Geoff Sharp is a Commercial Mediator from Wellington, New Zealand. Geoff works in the Asia Pacific region, including New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand and Pacific Islands. He is a mediator resolving business problems. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Mediators and mediates complex and hotly debated litigation covering… MORE >

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